tablesaw: -- (Default)
Over the weekend, [personal profile] temptingcuriosity and I drove up to Yosemite for a long weekend. We had made plans for her birthday, but it was also Earth Day, and the park was free admission, which was a pleasant surprise. Only the valley-floor roads were open, due to lingering snow, but the waterfalls we visited were magnificent (in no small part due to the same snow). We were hoping to see some sequoias, but they were either beyond closed roads or in areas closed for preservation.

The trip was a good reset button for work. In the earlier part of the month, I was once again struggling to solve problems caused by nebulous interactions with code not fully under my control. My coworker and I had delivered a solution to the problem a few days before I left, but the stress didn't quite abate until the long weekend. Now, I'm feeling a little more relaxed at work, on the one hand, but I'm also noticing that I've stayed late by accident pretty much every day this week, so I need to keep an eye on that as well.

After a recommendation from [twitter.com profile] ellaguro, I've been listening to Engravings, by Forest Swords. I'm looking forward to listening to more of their music.
tablesaw: Close crop on Brock Samson's I'm-gonna-kill-you face. (Brock Samson)
The office shut down for the last week of the year, and I spent almost all of it at home, sleeping far too late, and playing videogames. It was perfect.

There's been a lot of stress in the last month. We're buying a house, the national political landscape continues to shift, and there was friends and family to visit in and out of town. We tried to cut down on extra stresses (this was the first time in my life I didn't decorate a Christmas tree, and we abandoned plans to travel to Boston for the Mystery Hunt), but it was still tough.

In addition to all this, I've been stuck on some intractable problems at work, which had been decimating my "agile velocity" and generally demoralizing me. I knew I was getting burned out, but I knew the winter break was coming, so I held out.

Now that I'm on the other side of the break, I can tell how stressed I was and how direct the solution is.

I'd already noticed some changes, since transitioning from general office work to programming. One was that I have been doing a lot less puzzling since problem-solving became my job. Another is that I haven't had as much time for leisure during workday downtime. I never really felt like I *needed* a vacation, so I saved up time (non-salaried) and felt fine. Even at my last job—programming with friends on a team, taking long convivial lunches—I got to dispense with a lot more stress than I realized.

So I'm trying to hold on to the change I feel between now and two weeks ago to remember to take the sustained time off. Even if there's nowhere I need to travel to. Because, while I hope to end up in another workplace with more day-to-day destressing, I'm probably not going to want a less-demanding job any time soon.
tablesaw: A young Shawn Spencer learns proper saw technique from his dad. (Cartoon)
When I was laid off from my last job, and I settled in to relearn programming, a friend told me not to think of it as learning to be a programmer: Programmers are always learning; at some point, you just call yourself a programmer.

Today, I approached the app I've been building with a specific goal (writing tests for the basic framework of the app thus far). I got started in the morning, I worked for a few hours, I got frustrated and grabbed some lunch, I went back to work, and when I finished it was evening, and I'd met my goal.

I didn't necessarily do it well, but I did it consistently, and I'm going to do it again tomorrow.

So starting today, I'm calling myself a programmer.

Now to get much, much better at it.
tablesaw: -- (Real1)
Short version:

I've been laid off again, and I'd like help taking a month or so catching up with technology and programming, most likely with the goal of starting a new career, but also for my own fulfillment.

OK—deep breath—let me elaborate.

At the beginning of February, everyone in my department was called into a room at the same time despite being in offices across the country, and we were informed that our department was being outsourced. This has happened before. The last time it happened, I ended up working temp assignments pretty much immediately, and I worked continuously (though at temp-job salary) for about a year, when I got a permanent position. It was a good permanent position with a good salary, but everything's come around again, and my last day of work is on Friday.

I've been putting off planning what I'm going to do next, because up until last week, I'd been busy planning a wedding (mine, yeah, happened last week, sorry I didn't mention it here). But now, satisfactorily wedded, I'm turning my attention to the empty days ahead, and what I need right now is a lot of help.

See, I know that if I wanted to, I could go back to the placement agencies and go through the same cycle again, but because I do a pretty niche administrative job, outsourcing seems eternally inevitable. And it's not a job I particularly enjoy; the thing it had most to recommend itself was stability, and it's clearly lost that. I'm looking toward something new.

I'm skirting around this paragraph, because it feels like I'm giving into cliche. I want to get into programming!!!1! That's the hot new thing, right? I was at this pool party and a man leaned over and whispered into my ear, "Programming," and now I'm going to do something on the World Wide Web!

But it's more than that. I started programming when I was six, but I stopped in college when I shifted focus to arts and performance to help ease my growing depression. And as time went on, I fell more and more out of sync with things. The world became plug-and-play, and I got complacent. Through it all, I missed programming, but felt like I never had the time to bring my programming expertise literally out of the twentieth century. I know how to code, I just don't really know anything to code in any more.

The last time I was laid off, a friend encouraged me to shift to web development, and I was just about to start looking at Rails, but the temp work came in fast, and I let it all slide. I don't want that to happen again, so I'm telling the placement agency that I'm taking a month for myself to learn new skills. I've got a cushion from the severance package, so I don't need to worry about income immediately, certainly not for a month. So I'm looking at April, at least, as a catch-up month.

And now, I get around to the help. I am friends with lots of very smart people in all areas of technology and programming (psst, that's you), and I'm hoping that I can both get lots of help, but also spread that amongst a bunch of you, so I don't feel like I'm leaning too hard on anyone. Some things I'd like to hear your thoughts about right now:
  • What sort of programming should I be looking at doing? As I said above, I have a good friend who's pushing me strongly into doing webdev, which seems promising. But I know I have firends (who don't see me every week for gaming) in other fields who might want to stump for their own specialties. Any thoughts?
  • What references/manuals do you recommend? I'd like to get any books I should look for sooner rather than later.
  • What sort of technology am I going to need? I've got a cheap, basic prebuilt desktop computer that I bought at Staples five years ago. It has been intimated that I might need a laptop or something stronger.
But knowing myself, I think these next two are the most important:
  • What sorts of challenges can I set up for myself to drive learning?
  • Can I bug you for help and encouragement?
I know that I learn best when I can apply techniques to a specific problem, and it's hard for me to invent those out of thin air. And I'm always a little anxious about making direct contact with folks, so knowing that it's okay will help a lot.

I don't really know what's going to come of all of this. It's possible that at the end of all of this, I'm going to go back to doing the same kind of job, or shift to an administrative IT position, but I just want to feel like I'm caught up with everything.

Thanks for everything.
tablesaw: A man comes home frome work, his hat reads "Crossword Makers Inc" (Crossword Makers Inc)
When I started this temp gig, I threw myself at it with abandon. I'd been feeling sad and anxious and worried about not having work and maybe never having work again and being unwanted by everyone, and then there was some work. Yay! Everything fixed.

What actually happened is that instead of resolving the stress and anxiety of not being employed, it was transmuted into a laser-like focus on this new job (again, only a temp job) so that I wasn't paying attention to friends or anything else. It had a new commute long, which was new, but I still felt like at the end of the night I was tired and didn't have time to do or see much.

My friends have been waking me up out of that, and I'm talking with people again, but it’s a small circle of people on my chat, text, and social meetups. Going from talking to almost nobody to talking to a few people again is making me miss the nice broad sweep of broadcast information that a journal gives me. And though I keep reading DW and LJ and Tumblr, I don't interact even in comments, much.

But my schedule is really SNAFU, so I'm not going to make any promises about that. Last week, I only worked 2.8 days because of the U.S. holiday and an extra day I took to spend time with my family on the beach. This week, I'm getting prepared to go to Portland, Oregon for a week and a half for the National Puzzlers' League Convention, followed by a family wedding.

I mean, really; the Con is two days away. The pre-pre-con party is happening right now, I think. I am probably the least prepared for this con than I ever have been for any con ever. I am going to show up on Thursday and I probably still won't understand why all of these people I know happen to be at the hotel. The whole things just feels so weird.

More pressingly, I have no idea what I'm going to do for the three or four extra days that I'm in Portland. I may, in fact, spend them mostly in a hotel room reading actual books. Which will be okay too. But it's more vacation than I'm really used to ever taking in another city on my own.

Poll #11098 PORTLAND
Open to: Registered Users, detailed results viewable to: All, participants: 5


What should I do with my free time in Portland, Oregon?



Rambly post is rambly. I defy editing.
tablesaw: Futurama's Robot Devil, El Diablo Robotico (El Diablo Robotico)
Poll #10606 Would You Like to Take a Survey?
Open to: Registered Users, detailed results viewable to: All, participants: 5


Do you like zombies?

View Answers

Yes
1 (20.0%)

No
3 (60.0%)

Um, it's not that we wouldn't like to take your survey; it's more like we'd rather have dental surgery.
1 (20.0%)

Would you like to see George Wendt in a new musical?

View Answers

Yes
2 (50.0%)

No
1 (25.0%)

Would you like to take a hike?
1 (25.0%)

Would you like to see George Wendt as a zombie in a new musical?

View Answers

Yes
1 (25.0%)

No
2 (50.0%)

Try using a better deodorant.
1 (25.0%)



This has been a week for musicals. On Sunday, I saw Reanimator: The Musical. I missed this in its initial run last year, but I am so glad I saw it now as it prepares for a tour to the New York Musical Theatre Festival and the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. If you have the opportunity to see it in any of those places, you absolutely should. The staging is uniformly excellent, with Grand Guignol effects as horrific and cheesy one would expect. But I was constantly surprised by the show. The music was better than I expected, in writing and performance. I also didn't realize that the show was created by the same creative team responsible for the Reanimator movie. But mostly, I never thought I would get to see George Wendt as a lobotomized zombie slave on a small stage. That was pretty awesome.

Though it's generally comedic, there are only a few cheap jokes, which makes them stand out all the more. When a large bunch of zombies make their entrance, they do the Thriller dance, of course. And while most songs are original, one is a knock-off version of "My Way." But on the whole, it's an excellent show.

Tonight, I went to the last show of the East West Players' season, A Little Night Music. Though the text remained the same, the production took its design cues from 1910 Shanghai. I've never seen this musical in its entirety, and I really enjoyed it. I also recommend it, though sadly, unlike Reanimator, it does not have a Splash Zone in the audience.



The 9:00 a.m. alarm continues to be a good schedule making me more productive in terms of job search and general doing of things. I've gotten in touch with a staffing agency, and tomorrow I'll be doing a phone interview with a company that is looking to hire a legal word processor for four or five months. If that goes through, it will be a surprise. I was just getting used to the idea of having lots of free time. (I've only learned to cook one new thing!) Still, it'll give me a chance to keep the cash flow going while looking for something more steady.
tablesaw: Two yellow roses against a bright blue sky. (Family Roses)
I said I was going to post on Monday, but I didn't. I did, however, do productive things. Resumes have been tightened up and e-mailed. I also managed to finally drop my Mothers' Day gift at my parents' house. Today, I managed to wake up on time again and continue, doing laundry as well. There've been a few surprise social things that have come up, which is why DW keeps dropping down on the list, and why today's post is less than stellar. But I didn't want to slack off two days in a row.
tablesaw: Ration Hornblower, from the cast of Smile Time, peeks his horn nose out at you. (Ratio Hornblower)
So this week didn't work out so well.

After an initial flurry of activity filing for unemployment insurance and sending a few e-mails to staffing agencies, I fell into a funk of avoidance, leading to a mini freak out on Thursday. I talked with friends and family who reminded me that it's ok to be freaked out about being unemployed for the first time in over a decade, and that a few days of not doing anything productive is fine.

I'm going to try to set myself onto a daily working schedule come Monday. While it's nice to sleep in until 11 or noon, I'm not actually productive when I stay up late. Once it nears sunset, I start feeling like my work day is over, and I stop doing other things. I think that forcing myself to at least be awake by nine every morning will add a few hours to my "working" day, at the very least. More measures will probably be forthcoming.

I did manage to do a lot of nonproductive things, though. I entered a local crossword puzzle tournament and participated in a sudoku contest at Logic Masters India. boardgaming night (played Roll Through the Ages), role-playing-game night (beta-testing a game by Josh Robern), a party to read and mock Fifty Shades of Grey as a group, and an NPL party. And in addition to that, I saw a bunch of friends at different times. I joined the site Quora despite its "real names" policy, by hacking together a form of pseudonymity out of its nascent system. And I sauteed chicked without freaking out.

Starting Monday, I'm going to add DW to my list of daily things to do. For reals.
tablesaw: Charlie Crews, in a dark suit, rests his head on his left hand (That's Life)
I was laid off from my job last week, with nothing in particular lined up for the future. I've got some savings and some severance, and I'm filing for unemployment. I'm going to be posting more, I think, as I try to get a handle on all my free time.
tablesaw: Charlie Crews, in a dark suit, rests his head on his left hand (That's Life)
I'm heading out now to my postponed holiday weekend, which means today's my last weekday as an employee of the firm before I get fired and rehired by a new company to do the same job for less. And it was pretty busy today, to boot. Luckily, I happened to put on Felicidade Mixtape #3 from Breath of Life as the day was winding down, which has done a great job relaxing me, to get ready for my days off.

. . . Felicidade sim
tablesaw: Paul, who is a ghost, declares this to be "Booooring!" (Booooring)
Schedules are changing at work, and though that's usually something to worry about, things are working out well for me. My schedule is moving back 90 minutes, so instead of going into work at eight thirty in the morning and leaving at five o'clock, I'm going in at ten and leaving at six thirty.

The announcement was not without drama, of course. Our supervisors made the mistake of telling some people on Friday, but then waiting until Monday to inform the rest of us who were out that day. Of course, the rest of us still came to work on Saturday and Sunday, so the Friday people dropped the bomb first. In fact, one of them had gleaned some information about my schedule from our supervisor, and told me about it on Saturday. Not cool.

But considering that I've been having trouble getting into bed before one o'clock most nights, recently, this should be a really positive development for me.
tablesaw: -- (Real1)
Since I had business on the second floor, I decided to climb my way back to the sixteenth, to see how my body was doing.

I have to admit, I've been slacking on my exercise routine. I haven't been using my stationary bike as hard, or remembering to do other exercises as often. I haven't been sleeping as well, so I haven't gotten up early enough to lengthen the walking part of my commute.

On the other hand, various lifestyle changes have kept this slacking from turning into giving up entirely. My main focus has been my exercise bike, which I keep parked in front of the TV, and I've gotten fairly good at watching TV or playing videogames while on the bike instead of the couch. So when I'm "slacking," I'm not finding the energy for a full high-speed, high-tension workout; but I do still sit on the bike and pedal more leisurely, sometimes for two or three hours. And I still find time for wall push-ups, though with less rigor than I used to have.

Walking up the stairs, it was harder than I'd like it to be, but even though I felt like I was going to give up after about four flights . . . I didn't ever actually have to. I didn't even need to stop for a breather. It helped wake me up a bit too. In fact, if I hadn't had to get back to work, I probably would've kept going up.

I've said before that I have a tendency to slide into slothfulness. I don't really gain much pleasure from exercise, and I don't know that it's ever going to be something I seek out. But I'm glad that I've put a stopper on how far back I can slide.

Infodump

Jun. 5th, 2011 10:58 pm
tablesaw: -- (Default)
Things done since ever.

  • Bought tickets for the NPL Convention in Providence. Will be flying into Boston on the 4th (5 p.m. EDT), looking to bum around before heading to the hotel on Wednesday afternoon, then flying out of Logan early on the 11th (7 a.m.). Who'll be around?
  • I also said, "Screw it!" and asked for the rest of that week off from work, so it's going to be a real vacation for me all through to the 15th. I don't know what I'm going to do with myself. But it will not be working.
  • I'm coming out of a funk (well, came out of a funk a week or so ago). It's always hard to identify it when I'm in it, till my body rebels and says, "No, Tablesaw, you need to do things again. You're going to do those situps, and then you're going to go out and see people." I'm looking ahead to when the pushback happens, the time when I feel a little sick or a little tired, and I let my momentum slip, and I can't pick it up again. On the horizon, this is most likely to happen because . . .
  • I'm probably going into the dentist this week to get my other wisdom tooth looked at. I have a feeling it's going to need removal too. The last time that happened it took a lot out of me. If it happens again, I'm going to need to plan ahead so that I can remomentatize myself.
  • I planned to go geocaching with [personal profile] trinker, and then found out it was to happen on her birthday, so I went all out to be the birthday fairy. It turned out kind of okay.
  • All the TV shows ended, and everyone is pregnant, I guess.
  • My phone, my crappy-ass phone—that is only one step removed from a crappy assphone—has started losing its charge, so I'm actually getting a smartphone. Virgin Mobile, which I've been using to keep my cell-phone bill under $10/month, has an unlimited data plan for $25/month. It should arrive this week. So that'll be interesting.
  • The Portal 2 print is framed and gorgeous-looking. I'm also wrestling with framing these prints on the cheap, which would be easier if the United States and Canada hadn't decided that they wanted their own special paper sizes.
  • Oh, I got a haircut too. For me, it's super short. But then, my hair was getting kind of long. For a while, it looked way too young for my big, bearded, thirty-three-year-old face, but it's looking better with a beard trim.
  • I watched a friend run Dungeon World at Strategicon over the weekend, which got me rereading Apocalypse World. After playing through a campaign, the directives made a lot more sense. It's a fascinating game, which is probably why I keep talking about it to everyone I meet. Also, much like with Smallville, I'm seeing it in the shows I watch. Sons of Anarchy and Dexter are totally running on Apocalypse World.
  • Finished Dragon Age:Origins. Pablum is too exciting a word.
  • Visited the Museum of Death, knocking another item off of my bucket list (defined as things that are close enough for me to throw a bucket at). It was disappointing. I was hoping for a curatorial perspective beyond, "WOW ISN'T THIS COOOOOOOOL!? SERIAL KILLERS, MAN! FUCK SOCIETY!" There were some nice touches: a set of crime-scene photographs near (what I assume was) the brief mention of the murder-suicide. On the other hand, relics of Jeffrey Dahmer and Ed Gein were counterposed with "ads containing humorous depictions of cannibals." Yeah, that wasn't too pleasant.
Gotta go to bed now . . .
tablesaw: -- (Default)
For a while now, the people around me, in the office and friends, have been falling to the flu, colds, and all manner of sicknesses. Through it all, I've stayed remarkably healthy.

Except.

For the past few days, I've been getting headaches forcing me into bed early, like 8 o'clock. It's a kind of sinus thing, but it doesn't demand anything but a glass of water and some sleep. And I feel good in the morning after sleeping for ten to twelve hours. And then I start to get a headache again . . .

So maybe I am sick? I certainly might as well be for my supervisor, since I had to call in sick to get more sleep on a day I was already leaving early, adding up to an entire day home because I wanted to keep my eyes closed.

I guess I'll know more in a few hours.
tablesaw: "You are not special." (Slap!) "Not even in a bad way." (Slap!) (You Are Not Special)
Remember how whiny I was about the flu shot? Well you don't know the half tenth of it.
We have been advised that the dosage administered to you during our Flu Shot Clinic (by one particular nurse) was below the vaccine's recommended dosage requirements. You received an approximately 0.05ml dose rather than the 0.5ml dose, 10% of the actual dose guidelines.
Looking forward to going back.
tablesaw: An indigenous American crucified on a cross crowned by a bald eagle. In the background stands a Mesoamerican temple. (América Tropical)
I woke up to the sounds of helicopters hovering overhead. That wasn't a good sign.
A man trapped underneath a Red Line train in Hollywood was rescued Tuesday and taken to a nearby hospital with serious injuries, authorities said.

How the man, said to be in his 50s, ended up on the tracks is still being investigated by the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.

The man was lucky to have landed in the large gap between the tracks, otherwise his injuries would have been more serious than the bruises and contusions he suffered, said Luis Inzunza, a spokesman for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

A moving train "would have cut him in half," Inzunza said.

The track the train was on was shut down during the rescue operation. All trains north of the station were stopped, but those traveling south were still operating.
LA Times blog post (with video)
tablesaw: "You are not special." (Slap!) "Not even in a bad way." (Slap!) (You Are Not Special)
I've never really had a flu vaccine; for several years, it hasn't been recommended for me as a healthy man in my late 20s/early 30s. "Leave some vaccine for the rest of everybody," or something like that. But this year, I guess the supply and risks are both such that in the United States, the flu vaccine is recommended for everyone over the age of six. So I walked downstairs for a shot.

But guys—GUYS—my arm is all achy! Do you realize that? It, like, all hurty! Oh, I'm in pain. I think this is what pain feels like.

Anyway, as stupid as it is, venting helps. Thank you, internet, for indulging me today.

Better Days

Oct. 6th, 2010 05:08 pm
tablesaw: Me, as a magic user, with long flowing hair, a sever beard, and focused eyes (Unknown Armies)
Yesterday was terrible.

I didn't have a bad night's sleep, but apparently it wasn't enough. I'd stayed up later than I should talking with people. I was groggy all day, shambling around.

The California heatwave of last week has given way to storms. Yesterday, the rain was on and off, but downtown it was windy, and I felt like it was scattering me to the winds. I had a drink with a friend, headed home, then took a nap, then a shower, then a nap, then sleep.

This morning things were rather better. I was more rested. I received a belated fandom gift exchange with lots of shinies. And a post from [personal profile] giandujakiss got me watching Remington Steele on Hulu (it was in the comments), and that cheered me up a bit too.

And now I've just finished up a cup of tea. It really is time to switch back from iced tea to hot tea again.

New icon is from [livejournal.com profile] lissapocalypse's brother. I think my beard looks awesome.
tablesaw: The Maple Street streetlight blinks on and off and on. (Monsters Are Due)
The second of three fanmixes for [profile] whedonland. This one is for Angel's evil law firm Wolfram & Hart. Links go to MP3s where freely available, and to streaming versions for everything else.



Songs, links, lyrics, and notes )
tablesaw: A trial sign ("This trail is OPEN") against a blue sky in Los Angeles's Griffith Park. (Hiking (Open Trails))
For a while now, I was having trouble getting to sleep, sometimes not even making it to bed before two a.m.

Well, that pendulum has swung back, and I'm pretty pleased. Yesterday, [livejournal.com profile] ojouchan and I went to bed at about 11 p.m., and I woke up early enough to get up, shower, and get donuts before taking the train to work. That . . . just doesn't happen. I'm more of a roll-out-of-bed-and-into-the-subway guy. It kind of through my measure of the day out of whack: I remembered so much more of the morning, and I don't think that's actually a net gain.

We're going to bed early again tonight, but I'll probably sleep in until I roll out.

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tablesaw: -- (Default)
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